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History of The DeKoven Center in Racine, WI




The DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin was founded as Racine College in 1852. Its first building was built that same year and is now part of The East Building, paralleling Lake Michigan. In 1859, Dr. James DeKoven came from St. Johnâs School in Delafield to become Warden of the College. It was he who gave the campus its focus, modeling the quadrangle on Radley College, Oxfordshire, England, with faculty and students living together in dormitories, worshipping daily in St. Johnâs Collegiate Church, and eating together in a common Refectory, today known as the Great Hall. Under Dr. DeKovenâs leadership, Racine College became a prominent institution of higher learning, attracting excellent faculty and good students. Mary Todd Lincoln visited the campus, considering the school for her son, Tad. Ralph Waldo Emmerson, the great essayist and poet, lectured here, and General Billy Mitchell was a graduate. Dr. DeKoven himself gained fame as a preacher and writer, and is commemorated on the church calendar each March 22nd. Dr. DeKoven also assisted in laying the cornerstone of St. Lukeâs Episcopal Church and was instrumental in founding The Taylor Orphanage and St. Lukeâs Hospital, all in Racine, WI. He died in 1879, and the school continued in one form or another through the Great Depression. Today it is an active retreat and conference center on the shores of Lake Michigan in Racine.


Run time 12 minutes 13 seconds
Producer The DeKoven Center
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